I (and so we) took a break from the Richard posts. But we now return. Perhaps at some point I’ll blog on some conferences I’ve been to: the Metaphysics of the Incarnation conference at the University of Oxford last September. And I might share a very brief talk I gave on the Trinity at a local church last October. But for now, on to the main attraction.
Richard has already argued in various ways that if there is so much as one divine person, there are at least three divine persons. But the arguments have all been a bit here and there. So to make the reasons even more evident, he plans to gather them all up into one. So here it is:
Suppose there is only one divine person: P.
1) Then P doesn’t share his greatness.
2) Compare two situations. In the first, P is the only divine person. In the second, P is not the only divine person; there is another: Q. In the second situation, P and Q love each other and P has the pleasure that love brings. So in the first situation, P lacks in eternity not only such love but also such pleasure.
3) Anyone supremely good shares her greatness. (Not so to share is to retain something greedily. But anyone supremely good does nothing greedily.)
4) Anyone supremely happy has such pleasure. (Not to have such pleasure is not to have an abundance of pleasure. But anyone supremely happy has an abundance of pleasure.)
5) P is supremely good and happy.
So if there is at least one divine person, there are at least two divine persons.
Suppose there are only two divine persons: P and Q.
6) Then P shares greatness. But P doesn’t share love or the pleasure that such love brings. (Only a person who has a partner and a beloved in the love shown him has the pleasure of love.)
7) Anyone supremely happy shares love and the pleasure of love. (Nothing brings more pleasure than love.)
8) P is supremely happy.
So if there are at least two divine persons, there are at least three divine persons.
Therefore, if there is at least one divine person, there are at least three divine persons.
There are two parts here. Let’s just briefly look at each in turn. So first let’s look at the section that aims to show that if there is at least one, there are at least two divine persons. Here I note only one thing: there’s an ambiguity in (2). It could mean that if there is only one divine person: P, then P doesn’t always love another, i.e sometimes P doesn’t love another. But it’s not clear this is right. This assumes that any creature begins to exist and so is not always around for P to love. But even if any creature does begin to exist, it still doesn’t follow that P doesn’t always love another. For it could be that at every time there is a creature that exists then and so there is someone around for P to love even if every creature begins to exist. It could also mean that if there is only one divine person: P, then P always lacks love of another divine person. This is true, in which case, Richard is not just speaking of love of another, but love of another divine person and so is relying on previous arguments for why the supreme love a divine person has includes love of another divine person.
Secondly, let’s look at the section that aims to show that if there is at least two, there are at least three divine persons. Here I comment on only one matter: a point of interpretation to do with (6). We have seen before Richard’s idea that love always involves a second person and sharing love always involves a third person. And here he seems to rely on what he said previously. I can see that, by Richard’s lights, P doesn’t love and so have the pleasure love brings unless there is a second P loves. And I can also see that, by Richard’s lights, P doesn’t share love unless there is, not only a second (Q) P loves but, a third with whom P shares his love of Q. But Richard says: “He alone possesses the sweetness of such delights who has a partner and a loved one in the love that has been shown to Him”. It’s not clear which of these two things Richard is saying. First, he is saying that P alone has such pleasure who has another to love, in which case the partner is the loved one, and then he later makes the point that to share love involves a third person. Secondly, he is saying that P alone has such pleasure who has a second to love and a third to love, in which case the partner is not the loved one. The problem with the first interpretation is that it makes the statement seem out of place coming as it does right after the claim that if there are only two divine persons, there’s no sharing of the pleasure of love. The problem with the second interpretation is that it makes the statement seem wrong by Richard’s own lights.
Well, this is enough to be getting on with for chapter 14. Next up chapter 15 on the claim that two divine persons must seek out a third divine person with equal desire and for a similar reason.